2016 was another momentous year for IndustriALL Global Union. Four years after the organization was founded in Copenhagen, IndustriALL held it’s second Congress in October in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was attended by some 1,400 trade union members from more than 100 countries.
The Congress slogan, Fighting Forward, reflects IndustriALL’s proactive stance – always pushing, progressing and never afraid to take up the fight. Affiliates elected new leadership with Jörg Hoffman becoming President and Valter Sanches taking over as General Secretary after both Berthold Huber and Jyrki Raina stepped down.
IndustriALL delegates in Rio took the opportunity to show support for ‘Lula’ da Silva with a resolution backing the former Brazilian President as he faces political persecution from neo-liberal forces in the country.
Congress delegates also showed solidarity for trade unions in Korea, adopting a resolution that led to huge global support from IndustriALL affiliates for the Korea General Strike on 30 November. Korean unions have come under heavy attack from the government and trade union leaders have been jailed. IndustriALL leadership, together with affiliates, made several trips to South Korea in 2016, addressing tens of thousands of trade union members on the streets of Seoul.
The campaign to Stop Precarious Work continues, and new artwork was unveiled at Congress on 7 October, the World Day for Decent Work. Congress delegates spoke time and again about the need to tackle the ever-growing threat of precarious work.
In 2016, new emphasis was brought to the campaign to ratify ILO C176 on safety and health in mines – with a social media campaign on 28 April, the International Day to Commemorate Dead and Injured Workers, reaching 400,000 people. IndustriALL affiliates around the world continue to push their governments to adopt the Convention and Guinea became the 33rd country to agree to ratify C176 on 26 December 2016.
The campaign to clean up shipbreaking, the world’s most dangerous job, goes on. IndustriALL’s affiliates in India have made great progress in unionizing workers and improving safety in the country’s shipbreaking yards. However, it remains a lethal industry as shown by the tragedy at Gadani, Pakistan, on 1 November when more than 28 workers lost their lives and 50 were injured in an explosion during the unsafe dismantling of an oil tanker.
IndustriALL worked with global union BWI in a joint campaign to improve safety and workers’ rights at cement giant LafargeHolcim. Some 70 workers die each year toiling for the recently merged multinational, 90 per cent of whom are employed indirectly.
Meanwhile, IndustriALL corporate campaigns against Rio Tinto, Ansell, and Hugo Boss resulted in positive outcomes for workers.
At the end of 2016, IndustriALL affiliates around the world mobilized once more to support twelve garment workers convicted for protesting against the dismissal of their union reps in Nicaragua. Around 4,000 people signed a letter to the government of Nicaragua and to the Korean garment manufacturer SAE A Tecnotex, asking for the workers to be unconditionally released. Many unions sent letters of protest to their local Nicaraguan embassies. The campaign for justice for the #Tipitapa12 continues.
Everyday IndustriALL receives reports of worker rights violations around the world. This will not change in 2017 and IndustriALL will never stop campaigning.